The business directory scam strikes again

You work at a small business, nonprofit, church or local government agency, and you get a call:  Someone wants you to confirm your contact information for a directory. Sure, no problem.   

But there is a problem:  Soon, you’re opening an invoice for hundreds of dollars for a listing in an online business directory — something you never asked for or wanted.

The FTC is alleging that three telemarketing agencies in Canada, which did business under names like Your Yellow Pages and OnlineYellowPagesToday, used that very m.o. to target small offices in the U.S.

According to the FTC, the scam didn’t always stop with the invoice. When people disputed the invoices, the companies pointed to recordings of their initial calls — sometimes using edited or altered versions — to “prove” that employees had okayed the charges. Businesses or organizations that still refused to pay got harassing calls telling them they’d owe interest and legal fees and would be reported to credit reporting agencies. Sometimes, the FTC alleged, the scammers went even further, pretending to be debt collection companies, getting people to pay for a promise that they wouldn’t call again. In the face of threats, many people just paid.

So what can you do to protect your business or organization from this kind of fraud?

  1. Train your staff. Educate your employees about how these scams work. In fact, send them a link to this blog post and article.
  1. Inspect your invoices. Depending on the size and nature of your business, consider implementing a purchase order system to make sure you’re paying only legitimate expenses. At a minimum, designate a small group of employees with authority to approve purchases and pay the bills.
  1. Verify to clarify. Check a company out for free at bbb.org, and read the BBB’s report on them. Also try doing an online search using the company name and words like “complaint” or “scam.”
  1. File a complaint. If you’re getting bogus bills, file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint and with the BBB. Complaints help shape the FTC’s law enforcement agenda, so it’s important to sound off when you spot a scam. Concerned about business directory fraudsters’ threats to tarnish your credit if you don’t pay? Many will simply drop the matter — and may even provide a refund — if they know you’ve complained. If the scheme involved the U.S. mail, submit a Mail Fraud Complaint Form to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. You also can alert your state Attorney General.

 

Blog Topic: Avoid Scams

Comments

This is terrible news. Both government and the private sector conduct legitimate business surveys regularly. It is difficult enough to get good answers even without the threat of a scammer being the source of the "survey."
It should be conveyed to business owners and the population in general that legitimate and extremely useful surveys do exist. Taking the steps outlined here to determine whether the survey is from a trusted source is certainly worthwhile.

A timely reminder of the depths that scammers will sink to.

There are Telephone comanies operating in New Zealand and they ask or charge people unreal charges like i have been caught up in a $NZD10,986 dollars for 1 month scam run from VODAFON NEW ZEALAND as i have had the ponzie debt collectors chasing me for over five years demanding this money which has been paid but the ponzie debt collector called DEBT WORKS AUCKLAND NEW ZEALAND have been harrassing me for the past 5 yrs as this is one of the worst telephone scams in the world that even the F.B.I know of as they say its appalling
as they charged me a $NZD4,691 for going through a 7;1 earthquake in Christchurch New Zealand and they have rang me four times this week as this is total telephone scam and harrassment which must be stopped other wise it will end the internet and telephone service world wide over

There are also credit card sales people that issue credit cards under another company. For example: I thought I was getting a Sony Visa. It is actually a Capital One Visa and I DID NOT WANT TO DO BUSINESS with rude crude vulgar CAPITAL ONE! Is this legal for them to do?

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